Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
South African Tourism Call Centre E-Tools Facebook Twitter
Speech by Deputy Minister Fish Mahlalela on the occasion of the Graduation Ceremony of Provincial Tourism Monitors at Communio Church, Mpumalanga
Graduation Ceremony of Provincial Tourism Monitors at Communio Church, Mbombela, Mpumalanga Province

​​​Program Director

MEC of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Hon Pat Ngomane
Chairperson of the Board of MTPA, Mr Thulani Nzima
Chief Executive Officer of the MTPA, Mr BJ Nobunga
Government Officials
Industry Representatives
Our Special Graduates, The Tourism Monitors
Ladies and Gentlement

Good Morning

It is my pleasure to be here with you today, to witness this special occasion, the graduation ceremony of Tourism Monitors. Tourism is a key economic pillar and a significant generator of revenue and employment. Government’s recognition of the critical importance of tourism in the economy is evident in the sector’s inclusion as one of the priority areas in the National Development Plan .

However, tourism faces the realities of emerging markets and global demand trends, it is of utmost importance that visitors feel safe and protected. Accordingly, effective and efficient execution of a holistic Tourism Safety Plan, including a Crisis Communication Management Plan is of key importance. Consensus between various public and private institutions and active implementation of the plan by each role-player are of cardinal importance to ensure tourism growth and development.

It is generally accepted in the global economy that tourism is potentially the most powerful generator of jobs, investment and economic growth in any country. Mpumalanga province, with its scenic tourism attractions and natural resources, is at the centre of this economic growth and development in our country. There is no other Province in the country so widely endowed with the cultural, scenic and lifestyle attributes necessary to distinguish it as a tourist destination of international status. 

Recent years have however seen this province gaining a reputation for high levels of crime and social instability. Crime, violence and social unrest remain the most immediate and challenging threat confronting Mpumalanga’s aspirations to become a globally competitive tourist destination. 

The strategic location of this province, bordering Mozambique and eSwatini, and the popularly world known Kruger National Park, as a result, imposes a special level of accountability on the leadership of the province to develop and implement a provincial framework for a local and co-ordinated response to tourism safety. Integral to this framework is the development of a Tourism Safety Plan, which I am aware of your draft, to enable tourism stakeholders to communicate in a prepared and pro-active manner to the full range of crises that might occur.

Commitment in both the public and private sectors must be driven from top down - if this is not the case, there will be no real commitment to working together in a crisis. Trust must be developed in the beginning and if top leadership develops trust across sectors, it will trickle down to lower-level tourism activists. Ultimately, for a Tourism Safety Plan to work, trust must be developed through all levels of the private and public sectors.

As we all know, tourism is government led, private sector driven and community based. All spheres of government together with private sector should conduct a tourism awareness education campaigns throughout the province to encourage communities in Mpumalanga to value tourism and tourists. The campaign should highlight the importance of a helpful public service and that tourism safety is a collective responsibility.

Tourists and people in general need to see Improved road and directional signage for tourists particularly in key tourism destinations and danger hot spots. Tourism stakeholders should be encouraged to include references to tourism safety in their general newsletters to ensure that the message of tourism safety is carried through to all tourism industry stakeholders. All spheres of government should therefore build capacity in the tourism industry on how to prepare for and manage crises including guidelines on handling the reporting of crimes, to avoid a situation wherein a scary perception is created by the media to put potential tourists away, and consequently harm the economy. Tourism Monitors Programme is such one proactive mechanisms.

Incidents of crime directed at tourists and tourism products create a negative perception and reputation about a destination and in turn, impact on both the visitor experience and visitor numbers,

International tourism trends indicate that personal safety and security issues are of high importance in potential tourist’s choice of a destination. The collective collaborative effort of government is evidenced today in this graduation ceremony of Tourism Safety Monitors, by the partnerships formed to work together for the safety of all our visitors and to ensure that South Africa remains a destination of choice.

In response to tourism safety challenges as well as enhancing the tourist experience, the Department of Tourism has been working with various stakeholders to compile a safety plan of which the Tourism Monitors Programme forms part of. The programme involves the recruitment, training and deployment of youth to assist with the safety of the tourists at key tourism sites with high volumes of tourists or those sites that have a high potential of personal risk to tourists.

The governing party, the African National Congress has in its manifesto to our people, identified crime as one of the key priorities that its led government must resolve with speed. To this end, The National Tourism Safety Forum is in the process of developing the National Tourism Safety Strategy. The purpose of the strategy is to foster public private sector partnership in addressing issues of tourism safety in a more coordinated manner in order to provide an enhanced visitor experience and in the long term to change perceptions of South Africa as an unsafe destination.

The objectives of the Strategy are to:
  • Set out the short, medium and long-term tourism safety priorities,
  • Empower all spheres of government, tourism stakeholders, and other relevant stakeholders to establish and coordinate a partnership-based approach to tourist safety and incident management initiatives,
  • Identify effective joint preventative approaches aimed at reducing opportunities for crime on tourist facilities and operations, and
  • Facilitate integrated implementation and support of safety programmes.
​​The strategy will cover three broad thematic areas:
  • Proactive Measures 
  • Responsive Measures and
  • After Care Programme
It will further have a clear Communication plan which covers institutional arrangements and roles clarification.

However, we re-emphasise this message today that before we can even start looking into private sector, collaboration must happen amongst government departments as well. President Ramaphosa in his 2019 Budget Vote in Parliament has called upon all government departments to collaborate and work together to make maximum impact on the lives of our people. 

It is for this reason that we are currently in the process of entering into a Memorandum of Understanding with South African Police Services. The purpose of the MoU is for the two departments to collaborate on specific projects of common interest as they relate to tourist’s safety. The areas of collaboration include but not limited to the following:
  • Identification and analysis of key hotspots,
  • Establishment of a database of crime against tourists, 
  • Enhancement of tourism environment through visible policing 
  • The implementation of the Tourism Monitors programme, which we are doing today, and
  • The establishment of the Tourism Safety 24-hour Hotline.
The tourism monitor’s role is to among other things: raise awareness about safety and security matters to tourists; coordinate emergency and other relevant support for tourists; guide tourists on safest routes and areas as well as report incidences of crime against tourists.

This programme has been launched throughout the country including protected areas under the management of South African National Parks (SANParks) and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

Tourism is everybody’s business and we all do tourism. South Africans are encouraged to identify those who tarnish the image of our country and we urge them to report any suspicious activity. When tourists visit our country, there are multiple benefits through the tourism value chain.

We therefore must at all times ensure that they enjoy an authentic and proudly South African experience. At the same time, we urge all our visitors to exercise caution and vigilance and to observe universal safety measures to minimise risk

I wish you the best of luck my beautiful children, in you we have invested the safety of this Province, and look forward to welcome more tourists who would feel safe because of your presence and generosity

I Thank You